There is something sad about the end of your favorite baseball team's season.
Spring training marks the annual renewal of life, summer features warm days and good times, and fall seems compressed as we try to get everything done before the first snow, at least in the Northeast.
So it goes for the Red Sox fans, whose season ended Sunday night with a loss in Game Seven to the Tampa Bay Rays, those 1969 Mets impersonators. Fittingly, the high temperature Tuesday in Buffalo is scheduled to be in the low 40's, which isn't exactly baseball weather. Ever hit a baseball in cold weather? It's like a swarm of bees attacking your hands; it left me close to tears once, and it was warmer than that.
Boston's season raises an interesting question. In an age when you only hear chants of "we're number one," can you have a satisfying sports season when your team doesn't win it all? I'd like to think so, but it's tough ... and that's particularly true after a couple of instances of ultimate success, like the Red Sox have had lately.
It wasn't a great year in Red Sox Nation, but it was a pretty good one. The team's young talent continued to develop, ensuring a good future. Dustin Pedroia, Kevin Youkilis and Jon Lester look like stars. Boston made the playoffs despite a sideshow involving Manny Ramirez, who might have been useful in a Game Seven but the team probably wouldn't have gotten there with the distraction he represents. The Red Sox gave it all they had, beating a good Angels team and avoiding elimination for as long as possible in spite of a lineup that looked spent at time because of injuries. Mike Lowell would have been helpful in the playoffs, while Josh Beckett and David Ortiz were obviously hurting.
But the offseason brings time for contemplation, and it's easy to wonder about how some old friends will fare. Tim Wakefield, Jason Varitek and Mike Timlin were all big parts of the 2004 team, and all are facing serious questions about their baseball futures. If they all depart for one reason or another (not to say that they will, but they might), that would leave Ortiz as the only full-time player left from the magical 2004 season. Time waits for no one, particularly in baseball.
The offseason is also a time for action, as the team tries to readjust and get better for 2009. Trades? Free agents? Who knows? We only know that the Red Sox have resources and are willing to use them creatively. It's easy to feel much better about next year's baseball in Boston than in, say, Pittsburgh.
In the meantime, the New York Yankees haven't played baseball in three weeks. This was better.